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The county issues the purchaser a Certificate of Purchase, entitling the purchaser to a lien on the land. The county distributes the taxes paid by the purchaser to the taxing entities in the county. The landowner has 4 years from the date of the sale to pay the purchaser back his money, including all fees and 18% interest, or the purchaser may apply for a Tax Deed on the land.
The easiest way to find out when the tax sale is being held is to keep an eye on the legal notices in the newspaper. Each county Treasurer is required to advertise the properties for sale, along with the date, time and place of sale in the county newspaper for 3 weeks prior to the sale. The Converse County Treasurer's Office advertises in both the Douglas Budget and the Glenrock Independent. When it is time for the tax sale parcels they are also listed on the Treasurer's homepage.
The County Assessor's Office can show a legal description and, if they have it, a look on the map to see what the parcel consists of and where it is located. It's also a good idea to take the legal description to the County Clerk's Office and check to see if there are any outstanding liens against the property. Although Wyoming Statutes indicate that a purchaser could take a Tax Deed subject only to special assessment liens, knowing the status of the property could help avoid problems later. When it comes to purchasing certificates on properties at the tax sale, it's definitely buyer beware.
The taxes and interest are distributed to the taxing entities, so they will receive the money they depend on to operate during the fiscal year. The advertising fee is used to pay for the cost of advertising the parcels for the 3 weeks prior to the sale in the local newspapers. The CP fee is used to pay for the costs of the certificates and the tax sale. The entire amount paid by the purchaser for the CP is subject to interest (even the fees) if the landowner redeems the property.
When the property is redeemed by the landowner, the CP holder is reimbursed for all the taxes and fees they paid plus a 3% penalty and 15% interest per year. The Certificate is then returned to the Treasurer's Office and the CP holder has no more interest in the property.
Here's an example of why you might want to do that - a landowner doesn't pay his 1999 taxes. The Treasurer's Office offers a certificate of purchase for the property at the tax sale in August, 2000. A CP holder pays the taxes, interest and fees and receives a Certificate of Purchase. In September, 2000, the 2000 taxes are billed. The CP holder may pay the taxes. If the CP holder does, they would be reimbursed the taxes plus 15% per year interest and a 3% penalty if the landowner ever redeems the property.
If the CP holder does not pay the taxes, and neither does the landowner, the Treasurer's Office will offer the property for sale again in August, 2001. A different purchaser buys a CP for the land at that sale. Once 4 years has passed for the original purchaser, he/she applies for a Tax Deed. But, in order to get a clear Tax Deed, the purchaser now has to redeem the property from the second CP holder, or as many as there were in the 4 years. That means the original CP holder must pay any subsequent CP holders the taxes plus interest, fees and penalties.
That's why most CP holders pay taxes for subsequent years - even though it's not required
Here's a breakdown of what's collected from the landowner at the time of redemption: - The CP Amount - A 3% penalty on the CP Amount - Interest on the CP Amount at 15% per year - Any subsequent taxes paid by the CP Holder - Interest on the subsequent taxes at 15% per year
The 3% penalty on the CP Amount allows the CP holder to get some return on the money paid at the sale even if the landowner redeems the property right away. For example, if a certificate is purchased at the tax sale for $500, and the landowner redeems the property the next day, the CP Holder won't receive much interest, but will be reimbursed all the money paid at the tax sale plus the 3% penalty. So, the CP Holder would receive an additional $15 for their 1 day investment.
Wyoming law also prescribes a strict procedure that must be followed in order to properly apply to the Treasurer's Office for a tax deed. It is the burden of the CP holder to make sure all the steps are followed properly, and failure to follow the procedure could result in the invalidation of the tax deed, should it ever be challenged in court.
Here are all the general rules: - The CP Holder must apply for a deed after 4 years from the date of sale but no later than 6 years. - Written notice must be served on each person in possession of the property and on the person in whose name the property was assessed. - If no person occupies the property, notice must be published in a newspaper in the county for 3 consecutive weeks. - The application for deed must be made after 3 months, and not more then 5 months from, the last notice in the newspaper. - Notice must be sent by certified mail to any mortgagees that have liens filed on record.
All notices must list: - When the CP Holder purchased the certificate - In whose name the property was taxed - A description of the real property - The year the property was taxed or assessed - When the Time of Redemption will expire - When application for the tax deed will be made - The amount of any special assessments levied on the property
Once the CP Holder has completed all these steps, they can apply to the Treasurer's Office for a tax deed by signing a statement certifying they have complied with all the procedures, and surrendering their original CP.